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MARKETPLACE:  Auto | Jobs | People Search | Personals | Travel | Yellow Pages  January 16, 2005
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Martinez�s first Series start has Boston one win from prize
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ST. LOUIS (AP) -- He has been loved and revered, maligned and smeared.

He�s a one-word name, Pedro, the way Reggie used to be.

And now he and the rest of the Boston Red Sox are one win away from an event that will change their lives and alter the universe of a long-suffering team.

With all of baseball watching and wondering whether he would come through, Pedro Martinez allowed just three hits in seven scoreless innings Tuesday night, retiring his final 14 batters in a 4-1 victory over St. Louis that gave the Red Sox a 3-0 World Series lead.

�It�s been a great ride,� he said. �I hope everybody enjoyed it as much as I did. Even with the struggles that I�ve had up and down during the season, I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed every moment.�

It was perhaps his final game with the Red Sox. He can become a free agent after the World Series, and it�s unclear whether he�ll be back for an eighth season in Boston.

�If they don�t get me, it�s probably because they didn�t try hard enough,� he said. �My heart is with Boston. I consider Boston my house.�

Martinez got out of a bases-loaded jam in the first when Jim Edmonds flied out and left fielder Manny Ramirez threw out Larry Walker at the plate.

Then Martinez allowed hits to his first two batters in the third, but pitcher Jeff Suppan languished in no-man�s land off third on Walker�s grounder to first and ran into another double play.

St. Louis never got another runner to first with Martinez on the mound.

�Once they didn�t score in that inning, I said, �It�s up to me now,�� Martinez said.

He put to sleep the Cardinals� batters and their fans, turning the sea of red in Busch Stadium into a silent crowd. He needed just 98 pitches to get through seven innings and turn the game over to the bullpen, and he allowed just one ball out of the infield after the third.

�His changeup kept us off balance,� the Cardinals� Reggie Sanders said.

Martinez�s success can�t be questioned�three Cy Young Awards and a regular-season record of 182-76.

But in Boston, fans talked about how he wasn�t the same as a few years ago. He no longer overpowered batters, he had turned into a 100-pitch pitcher and he came apart against the Yankees. They debated whether his $17.5 million salary was worth it.

Will he be on the mound next April when the Red Sox�it is too much to think ahead�open the defense of their World Series title?  And their opener is against the Yankees, no less.

�I hope I get another chance to come back with this team, but if I don�t, I understand the business part of it,� Martinez said.  ï¿½I just hope that many other people understand that I wasn�t the one that wanted to leave. I�m only doing what I have to do.�

In September, he called the Yankees his �daddy� because of their success against him, sparking chants of ridicule when he pitched in New York during the AL championship series.

�The Yankees are over. That was one frustrating game I said that,� he said. �I could be anybody�s daddy any day.�

He certainly treated the Cardinals like kids.

Boston has had great pitchers over the past 85 years. Dave Ferriss led the 1946 staff within one victory of the title. Jim Lonborg dominated in 1967 only to lose Game 7 to the Cardinals. And in 1986, Roger Clemens and Bruce Hurst couldn�t get the job done against the New York Mets.

Well, Martinez has done his job and put the Red Sox in position to win. Boston has four chances to finish off St. Louis.

Derek Lowe gets the first chance Wednesday night. After that, it would be Tim Wakefield�s turn, and then Curt Schilling�s, ankle willing.

If that doesn�t happen, and the Red Sox and Cardinals go to another Game 7 on Sunday night, Martinez�s spot comes up again. But by then, Martinez and his teammates could be getting fitted for rings and celebrating at Beantown�s biggest party since the one with tea.


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